Abnormal Psychology

1374 Words 5 Pages
On Being Sane in Insane Places Essay
Abnormal psychology is a field that is not defined with clear lines and categories. Instead, the field is operationalized through a blurry gradient scale, riddled with ambiguities. The definition of what constitutes normal is in no way consistent throughout the world (Benedict, 1934). A culture has a social definition of what normal is and consequently, this definition influences the psychiatric determination of normal and abnormal. Consequently, a huge weight and is placed on the discretion of the professionals in determining psychological abnormality. Diagnosis and correct treatment for the insane is a task made extremely difficult by a multitude of factors that span into various areas of uncertainty,
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On the initial patient interview it seemed as if staff were eager to label the pseudopatients with mental illness and to seamlessly incorporate them into the mental hospital which they had become so used to. The details of patient’s history, while reported normally by the pseudopatient were interpreted by the psychiatrist as confirming to the diagnosis no matter how inconsequential the patient history objectively seemed to be. Their life story was viewed through the lens of a label even before formal diagnosis simply due to the fact that they were being interviewed in a context of a mental hospital. The label that was given to these individuals became important in so many ways. Everything they did and everything they were is automatically seen in relation to their label. This defining component of mental illness stigma makes it incredibly hard to separate self from your mental illness. Individuals fall into a self-fulfilling prophecy in which they behave as they are expected to (Scheff, 1966). In the study, all pseudopatients were labeled immediately upon entering the hospital and were released with their label still looming over them. Once given a label the patient is stuck with it and there seems to be no possibility of overcoming the stigma (Rosenhan,

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